Truth Syrum is a new single from RnB pop singer, Nikia. Born in NY and raised in California, she has a substantial musical background and got her first record deal at age 15. As is hinted by the title, Truth Syrum is a song about honesty and potential reconciliation. Being truthful about your feelings and not trying to hide your pain can become an antidote to your relationship problems, regardless of whether the relationship is ultimately saved or not.
Nikia’s vocals and earnest lyrics lend an authentic quality to the song. She’s clearly a professional singer, so she’s able to handle the high level of difficulty this music presents. The musical backing is pretty straightforward RnN, mellow and smooth but still poppin’ enough to get down to. The video for this jam also does a decent job of adding realism and allows the listener to visualize the narrative Niki’s trying to get across. We see the dynamics of the relationship and are able to connect it with the lyrics. The video even ends with an intriguing “to be continued” cliffhanger, indicating that there may be a few more chapters to this story.
Ride Wit Me is the lead single from Harlem based hip hop artist Soup Black’s new album, S.O.O.P.“S.O.O.P.” stands for “Started Out of Poverty,” which is a running theme on this release, as Soup Black wants the listener to understand the struggles hes gone through (beginning with early childhood) on the journey to where he is now. This is what makes Ride Wit Me significant as an opening track. Soup Black is essentially inviting us to ride along with him on the journey. Rather than simply complain, the song has a very positive and encouraging tone, and the message conveyed is one of perseverance. To Soup Black, he isn’t bitter about his trouble because he sees how they were a source of inspiration, and that adversary is just a part of life that everyone must go through and try to hold their heads up and stay strong.
Ride Wit Me is a properly produced song, and Soup Black has a very clear delivery and commanding vocal presence. This guy could probably tour the college circuit as a motivational speaker. The jam itself is musically sound though. His lyrics really do have some substance there as well. Unlike many rappers, who deal in the superficial, Soup’s not afraid to open himself up a bit and share his personal struggles. I don’t want to give too much away, but if you listen to Ride Wit Me, it will probably want to make you stick around and check out the rest of the album.
Originally published in 1995, “The Gleaming Crest” was my first poetry chapbook (you can read more about it here.) Written while I was still in high school, this obscure literary gem from the 90’s deals with themes of adolescent angst, grandiose dreams, romance and coming of age. It’s only about 35 pages, but worth picking up a copy since it’s basically vintage at this point. The book is available from Amazon, but there are also quite a few copies floating around in locally owned book stores, record stores and random shops. It’s a great book to have sitting out on a coffee table if you want to get strange looks from guests who come over.
Trifilin is a new track from hip hop artist, “Names Not Andy,” taken from his cleverly titled upcoming album, thepits.exe.Trifilin is largely a jam about authenticity. The artist calls out those he deems as false friends and fair weather acquaintances who only come around when they need something. The backing music on this track is really rad. It has some “Asian” vibes, but honestly I can’t quite place it. It really gives the song a bit of character and distinguishes it from other hip hop music. Names Not Andy’s delivery is crisp and assertive. He manages to come off strangely likable even while aggressively berating the fake friends around them. Trifilin is much more creative than the average rap song that comes across my desk.
Masala Bazaar is a novel new electronic music track. It’s a collaborative effort from Jamit (who provided the arrangement) and Kroissenbrunner (who resides in South Africa and contributed the sounds.) The vocals are in Zulu language but apparently represent the names of various spices. Masala Bazaar is a palatable jam all right. The song’s retrofuturistic beat combines with flavorfully subliminal vocals to to function as a kind of musical morse code. The pacing on this track is fast enough for a high energy dance party, but the tone is mellow enough to hypnotize you on a long drive. I’ve reviewed multiple jams from Jamit, and each one has delivered in its low-key unassuming style. Just quality electronic music without any hype or attitude.
Love Ya constitutes the first major release of 2019 for artist Tanya Nolan. Featuring Kirko Bangz, this heartfelt jam really demonstrates the prowess of Tanya’s vocals. Her confident delivery and the effortless way she seems to belt out these lyrics makes it almost look easy. Tanya’s vocal performance on this song is so strong it would have even impressed Simon Cowell. Her powerful voice simply drives the action here, all the way through.
Love Ya is a soulful / pop / r&b style song, notable for a lyrical depth and narrative that’s refreshingly substantive for this style of music. The track deals with couples struggling through their relationship issues. Romantic parties articulate their grievances and frustrations. In one instance, ultimately there’s a realization that the girl must shut this person out of her life, even while she freely admits she still loves him just the same. Rapper Kirko Bangz takes on a role in a hip hop interlude as a romantic interests, where he acknowledges he can never be all that she wants him to be. The video for this song is impressive not just because of the production but because it manages to deal us an engaging story of how love endures hardship. A lot of people clearly worked very hard on this track, and it shows.
This Love is a new single from New York City based singer, songwriter and producer, Kendra Black. The top tier production on this track and impressive pop vocals make this song just about as good as any major label hit currently playing on the radio. With her simple, stylish look and polished performance, Kendra has the contemporary pop music aesthetic down to a T. It’s really just a matter of whether this jam or her new album The Fire receives enough exposure in the right circles. On this single, Kendra has demonstrates a dynamic, full voice and sings with passion over a high energy synth backing that’s ripe for the dance floor.
Beat It Up is a new single from DC based rapper Jamar. It’s from his upcoming EP, Room Service, which he worked on throughout college. Beat It Up actually has excellent backing music. The beat has an uplifting sparkle to it, regardless of whether or not the listener engages with the lyrics. Jamar has a decent flow and appears to have had some vocal training. Most importantly his vocal tone and style matches the music. This song has a very 90s hip hop / pop feel to it. The video features Jamar training in a boxing gym, but I’m not quite sure the song is about boxing if you catch my drift.
I’ve been doing this a long time, and I freely admit I had no idea there was such a budding young hip hop scene in India. Much of it is being fueled by a collective known as “Khatarnaak,” which was founded by an artist known as Sun J. One of his latest singles is DILLI (a slang for New Delhi.) Sun J’s delivery is quick and his tone is gritty and street-like. The song is essentially Sun J’s representation of the city he identifies with. Also interesting is how hip hop is adapted here to create a distinctly Indian sound, thus lending itself to a newly recognizable, emerging sub-genre of hip hop. Sun J’s a talented rapper and does a fine job of representing the region musically and I suspect there will be a growing respect for hip hop produced by artists in that part of the world.
Dominique Mathurin’s Love is Contagious is a reimagined version of the 90′s hit song by Taja Sevelle. Dominique has licensed and remade the song here in her own image. One major element which distinguishes this version is that it is mostly guitar driven, whereas the original was more of a bubblegum synthpop jam. The guitars give this song a twangy kind of avant garde, R&B pop sensibility. It’s just so much more groovin’ and has a very elegant, classy vibe. In terms of vocals, this song has a very high level of difficulty and Dominique somehow manages to pull it off. Granted, contemporary production makes it easier to produce this kind of music and conceal flaws, but I promise these parts are not easy to sing. Do not try this at home. Most remakes and cover versions of songs do not live up to the quality of the original, but this one does and in the process evolves its own personality. The combination of a clear artistic vision and Dominique Mathurin’s all out vocal performance is ultimately what gets it there.